Sunday, November 09, 2008

Amen to intellectualism!

The dawning of a new day.
Sunrise over the Coral Sea, Mission Beach Australia.
Copyright (c) 2008 Wendee Holtcamp

A great Op-Ed by Pulitzer prize winning journalist Nicholas Kristof in today's New York Times: Obama and the War on Brains. Amen for intellectualism's return to America!

An intellectual is a person interested in ideas and comfortable with complexity. Intellectuals read the classics, even when no one is looking, because they appreciate the lessons of Sophocles and Shakespeare that the world abounds in uncertainties and contradictions, and — President Bush, lend me your ears — that leaders self-destruct when they become too rigid and too intoxicated with the fumes of moral clarity.

(Intellectuals are for real. In contrast, a pedant is a supercilious show-off who drops references to Sophocles and masks his shallowness by using words like “fulgent” and “supercilious.”)

OK I've been known to drop ambivalent, but I have never said fulgent or supercilious! Ha ha! Earlier in the article it also says this which made me laugh!

At least since Adlai Stevenson’s campaigns for the presidency in the 1950s, it’s been a disadvantage in American politics to seem too learned. Thoughtfulness is portrayed as wimpishness, and careful deliberation is for sissies. The social critic William Burroughs once bluntly declared that “intellectuals are deviants in the U.S.”

(It doesn’t help that intellectuals are often as full of themselves as of ideas. After one of Stevenson’s high-brow speeches, an admirer yelled out something like, You’ll have the vote of every thinking American! Stevenson is said to have shouted back: That’s not enough. I need a majority!)

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